The first week into the New Year meant it was time to shake off the rust of December’s Honolulu Marathon and see what, if any, juice I had back in my legs. The plan was a small fartlek or broken tempo—which, in my mind, is actually just a fartlek by a different name.
Since the marathon, I had started back with some easy run-walks and built back up to regular easy runs. I noticed that the shoes I had been wearing for the majority of the late summer and fall were now cooked.
Now, it was time to check out my options for something new on my feet.
My contract ended at the end of March 2021, which means I have been able to play around and see what has changed in the shoe world while I’ve been sidelined. What I am a bit excited about is that I started out my career unsponsored and trying out different shoe brands and models.
Being back, unsponsored, and running for fun seems like a return to home and a fresh start.
First up on my new adventure are the Puma Women’s Deviate NITRO.
Standard specs include:
- 8mm drop
- Advanced Nitro Foam Technology
- INNOPLATE Carbon fiber plate
- TPU heel piece for added stability
- Seamless dual-layered upper
- PumaGrip full-length rubber outsole
Designed to fit the profile of a woman’s foot, the Women’s Deviate NITRO is meant to be an everyday plated trainer. Not a flat, not a race shoe—but something that still lets you feel good out there for a regular run. I have read that it should run comparable to Saucony Endorphin Speed, Nike Tempo Next% and HOKA One One Carbon X in terms of wearability, however, the Deviate NITRO come in at slightly lower price point. I’ll have to check those out on this journey for a fair comparison.
Since I am just building back into any form of regular running with some light efforts, I’m typically someone who does my first few weeks of workouts in my everyday trainers. These seemed like the perfect fit (pun intended). No seriously, these shoes run true to size.
As Mother Nature would have it, my first planned runs in my Deviate NITROS were derailed by inclement weather. I live in Colorado, where the weather can be a bit temperamental in the winter. For those of you who know me, my surgical history, and my stupid left leg, you know that ever since the end of 2016, I cannot run on a treadmill. Either my left leg gets jenky, or after two to three treadmill runs I’ll end up with a stress reaction in my right femur. It’s been problematic.
That usually means that I will just skip runs on days that it’s too snowy. But because I have yet to be killed by my own curiosity, I decided to give the Pumas a try on the treadmill—hoping that the jog/walk breaks between efforts would spare me any of my usual treadmill woes.
My first run was a 20 min jog warm up, 10 sets of 1 min run/1 min jog/walk and then a 20 min cool down. The left leg held up, my legs were more lively than I expected and the shoes were actually a lot of fun to run in.
I like shoes that are/feel cushiony, but not chunky or heavy. I’m small—so I can get away with lighter weight trainers and also can sneak around using those trainers for low-grade workouts.
The full Nitro foam midsole keeps the shoes light, but responsive. The carbon fiber plate was not that obviously felt during the easy run minutes, but I could feel it show up when my pace began to pick up. On my next run, the weather cleared, and I was able to run outside. Just an easy 12km, but with some slick spots of ice to navigate. I had zero concerns or issues running on those slick spots—my foot felt secure in the shoe, and the soles felt secure on the ground.
And then—she snowed again. This time, right when I was ready to be brave and try a broken down tempo (aka moderate fartlek with longer “on” sections). Since I handled the treadmill well the first go around, I figured why not try my luck again? I completed my standard 20 min warm up jog, and then rolled into six sets of 5-minute tempo/threshold with 1-minute walk break, and a 20 minute cool down. I certainly enjoyed testing the shoes out for some longer interval work, and again felt the aid of the carbon plate when my pace increased.
My hip though, was not impressed with my effort and I have decided that my dances with the treadmill this winter will be no more.
The true test of the breathability of the shoes came when I skipped town and went to Phoenix for the long weekend—and some warm weather runs. There, I got to test them out on my favourite run loop—the Papago Park 5km loop. This loop is undulating and mostly loose gravel. True to form, the Deviate Nitros felt secure on my feet, responsive—even on loose dirt, and were not chewed up by the change in surface.
Overall, I have worked my way up to regular running mileage, tested out the shoes with some basic workouts, put in some medium-long run miles and they have held up for each run. These shoes remind me of the good old days where I had to do my warm-up, workout, and cool down all in one shoe to save on time during my lunch break from court.
If you cannot tell—my reviews are going to be more of a run blog with a shoe focus.
I’m not sure where any of these shoes might take me. But I’m excited to share the path with all of you.
Lanni Marchant is a two-time Olympian and one-time fastest female Canadian marathon runner of all-time. If you’ve tried running in the Puma Women’s Deviate NITRO or else have a shoe review you want to share with Lanni Marchant, put your comments down below. To follow Marchant on Instagram, go to @lannimarchant.